Assignment #4 - color
Due Tuesday, March 13 (in class)
CS 48N - The Science of Art
Winter Quarter, 2007
Your fourth (and last!) assignment is to write a 3-4 page double-spaced paper
on one of the topics listed in the first section below. Alternatively, you may
do one of the projects listed in the second section. You may also choose
another topic or project if you clear it with me in advance. The format and
rules for this assignment are the same as in the first three.
If you did not present a project in class during a previous Student Day, then
you must present during the remaining Student Day (March 13). You can present
any of your four assignments, although I suggest presenting this assignment or
the previous one.
We considered many color spaces in class: one-dimensional (lines and circles),
two-dimensional (the chromaticity diagram), and three-dimensional (pyramid,
sphere, double cone, etc.). Many more are covered in chapter 6 of Kemp's book.
What do you think is the best system to guide artists in the
understanding and selection of colors? Defend your choice. Don't limit
yourself to the systems you have read about. Can you think of a better one?
In our coverage of the history of chiaroscuro, we neglected to treat the
effects of changes in painting technology, in particular the switch from egg
tempera to oil-based paint in the 15th century and the development of synthetic
pigments in the 18th and 19th centuries. Working from Lamb and Bourriau's
Colour: Art and Science
(I have the book in my office), the appendicies in Baxandall's
Shadows and Enlightenment,
or other sources, trace this fascinating relationship between technology and
art from the Renaissance through the 19th century.
Write a paper on the use of color in an art medium we have not considered in
class. Examples might be pottery, architecture, or tapestry. The latter is
interesting because colors mix subtractively when the fibers are dyed, then
additively when they are woven together.
In the book The Eye of the Artist, Stanford Professor Michael Marmor
discusses the art of famous artists who were known to have occular defects or
diseases. In some cases, the defects are not known, but are instead inferred
from the art. Choose one (or more) of these "more controversial" hypotheses
and evaluate it (them) critically. Do you believe him? Defend your opinion.
(I have the book in my office.)
Write on the treatment of color in a non-Western-European culture. One angle
might be to consider how universal are the emotions, symbols, and uses that
different cultures associate with specific colors.
Trace the scientific and artistic history of some optical theme that we did not
cover in class, such as motion blur or depth of field. If you choose motion
blur, don't forget to talk about its use in cartoon animation. If you choose
depth of field, don't forget to talk about the invention of photography and its
effect on our expectations about art.
Some non-writing projects
Assemble and present in class some demonstrations of unusual modes of color
mixing. Examples of additive mixing might include colored powders, adjacent
strips or spots, or woven threads. Examples of subtractive mixing might
include colored liquids or colored lights reflecting from colored surfaces.
Reproduce Newton's Experimentum Crucis in which he splits light into a rainbow
using a prism, recombines it, and splits it again. Alternatively, build a
replica of the Young-Helmholz matching experiment, using prismatically produced
primaries. This project would of course be great to demonstrate in class.
Build a physical model of one of the three-dimensional color systems described
in Kemp's book. Use any color reproduction medium you like to make the chips;
a color ink-jet printer might work well.
Copyright © 2007 Marc Levoy
March 5, 2007 09:24:20 PM